New social mobility commission report

Last week, the social mobility commission released a report exploring the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The report draws upon three written and oral evidence sessions conducted between November 2017 and June 2018.

As supported through a large body of research, the commission identified that there is a “substantial” gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils and that this gap generally gets wider as a pupil goes through school. Overall, there is an average gap of “around half a grade per subject” between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

The key findings from the commission were that:

  • Outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in London are generally better than in other areas of the country. This was achieved, in part, due to bringing “together local players who had a vested interest in improving local outcomes” through the London Challenge initiative. The commission emphasised the importance of getting “local buy-in” and “facilitating the sharing of best practice” through collaboration.
  • Restraints on public spending are having an impact on outcomes for disadvantaged pupils both within school and in the community. In schools, funding restraints are impacting upon what schools can offer their disadvantaged pupils. In addition, reduced local authority service funding is impacting upon families in poverty which, in turn, is having a knock-on effect in the classroom. The report also raised concerns that not all schools were spending their pupil premium effectively.
  • Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be taught by less experienced and less qualified teachers, with teacher retention and recruitment also posing a problem in disadvantaged communities.
  • The report emphasised the importance of overcoming the “early years gap” for disadvantaged pupils, but raised concerns about the quality of early years provision due to closures, funding restrains and government policy.

As part of their recommendations, the commission called for more incentives to retain and recruit teachers in disadvantaged areas and for the government to look closely at reviewing and investing in early years education. Of particular note, the commission also recommended that “in order to be rated as Outstanding, schools must highlight that they are collaborating with other schools in the local area and Ofsted must recognise and evaluate this in their inspections”.

NGA largely supports the commission’s findings, particularly around the impact of public funding restraints (both in and out of school) on disadvantaged pupils and the need for more emphasis on collaboration in the sector. NGA has also conducted its own research on the pupil premium to help those governing support disadvantaged pupils. This can be found here.

Author: Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission
Published: 01/03/2019, by Carys Ward
Last Updated: 01/03/2019, by Carys Ward